Community Foundation for Greater Manchester - Refugee Council
February 25, 2009

Community Foundation for Greater Manchester

Since the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester was founded in 1989 more than £17 million has been distributed to over 7,000 community groups and projects, changing the lives of many people in Greater Manchester.

We spoke to Gill Green and Rob Malyan (pictured, below) about the funds available and what advice they would give to refugee community organisations (RCOs) that were thinking of applying.

Q: What’s the role of the Foundation?

Our vision is “Helping ordinary people do extraordinary things” and we work with many different partners including local business, individuals, local authorities and the government. We work across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester and, though we’re not a development agency, we will offer support to organisations to help them make a funding application. If they need infrastructure development support we’ll signpost them elsewhere—to their local Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), for example.

Q: What funding is available?

We manage more than 50 grant streams including some that we administer for local councils and a small grants fund for locally-led community groups with an income of less than £50,000. As part of this small grants fund, we administer the government’s new Grassroots Grants programme on behalf of the Community Development Foundation. The Grassroots Grants is a £130million scheme which aims to provide much needed access to small grants for local community groups. The programme, will run from 2008-2011. Organisations thinking of applying should visit our website for details of which fund best suits them. Or they can call us on 0161 214 0940.

Q: Who decides which applications are successful?

Our model is independent grant making by local people, so funds are overseen by panels of volunteers who make the final decisions. We try to ensure that these panels represent the local community, although we do need to get some more young people at the moment.

Q: Is there any particular advice you’d give to RCOs who might want to apply?

The key thing for any organisation is to make their case. They should explain as clearly as possible what they want money for and why. A one-off event might be fine, but funders want to see that there is a real community need. It’s also important that the management committee—not just the Chair—has been involved and supports the application.

Q: Can organisations claim for volunteer expenses?

Yes, absolutely. But they must be realistic and can’t contravene asylum law. We’d suggest that organisations go to their local Volunteer Centre or CVS for advice before completing their application.

Q: What about full cost recovery?

The Grassroots Grants scheme requires full cost recovery (i.e. claiming back for all overheads associated with a project) but, realistically, we can’t do it for other small grants. We encourage organisations to charge participants for services even if they get a grant to cover core costs. The panels like to see a contribution from members and it helps to develop a project’s sustainability.

Q: Can you tell us about your Quality Standard for Funding?

It’s a unique initiative we’ve developed that recognises good practice in grant management and reporting by voluntary and community groups. As well as helping groups to develop their practice relating to funding it also serves to identify those who complete the process as effective grant recipients—that should help them with other funding applications.